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Lessons Learned from Viral Content

It is hard to predict what will turn into viral content. But when something does, you need to be ready. We had a chance to put that theory to the test recently. I wish I could say we did everything right. We didn't. However, we learned a lot along the way.

How It Started

As soon as I saw Jenna's Logo Swap blog post, I knew it would be popular, but I never anticipated how popular. The funny images created when she swapped famous logos delighted our regular readers and attracted the attention of a number of branding, creative and design websites. The post was featured on Design Taxi, Creative Blog, Fast Company, and Logo Design Love, to name just a few. These are high quality sites so they bring two benefits: traffic and SEO authority. This was a great example of a viral post. The traffic didn't come all at once. Instead, it built the first few days, spiked, tapered off and then spiked again as new groups discovered and shared the post.

Even now, several months after the original posting date  we see a few visitors every day finding the post through one of the many links which have been created.

Traffic is great but leads are better

In less than a month, this single post brought about 10 times the average post traffic. The attention was nice but we knew the vast majority of the traffic was comprised of other graphic designers. Our challenge was to try to extend the reach of the post to a more relevant audience. The solution? We offered to swap logos of a small business. We launched a logo swap contest on May 13. 

What we learned

It was fun ride but therre are definately some things we would do differently next time. Here is a quick summary of things we learned along the way:

  • Pay attention - As soon as we noticed the boost in traffic, we shared links to the posts on the high quality sites which were linking to us. We also commented on their posts, thanking the authors for the nice mentions.
  • Be ready to respond - Don't wait until you have a hot post. Be sure you have tools to build custom landing pages, lead capture forms, contests and links to other related content or contests. We use Premise to spin up the landing page in just a few minutes and used Formstack to capture the leads. The good news- we had the tools. The bad news? We waited too long to launch the contest.
  • Keep the follow up simple - Only 2 percent of the people who viewed the contest entered. Why? Because we required they upload their logo. We would  have collected a lot more contacts if we had allowed everyone to enter and simply requested a logo from the winning company.
  • Follow up with related content - While we won't do a logo swap every month, you can be sure this is something we will do from time to time with links back to the original post.

The bottom line: Create great content and watch for hints of it going viral.

 

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